Sorry for the light blogging week, but I’ve been in what my wife refers to as “mad scientist mode” working on the final build of TopStyle Pro 3.11 as well as FeedDemon’s upcoming podcasting support.
Last night I wanted to test FeedDemon’s podcasting code, and while it’s still very rough around the edges, it worked. I told FeedDemon to automatically download enclosures from ITConversations, and configured it to perform the download at 3AM and then sync with my iPod mini. When I woke up this morning, my iPod mini showed a new “FeedDemon Podcasts” playlist, so I disconnected it and brought it with me when I drove my 5yr-old son to school.
I was going to listen to it as we drove, but my son and I got involved in a great round of fart jokes, and let’s face it, those are special times. But on the way back, I donned the headphones and listened to the downloaded MP3s. For me, that was an “Aha!” moment. I didn’t care what was on the radio – I had already chosen what to hear, and it wasn’t something from Clear Channel.
Whenever I have an “Aha!” moment, I’m reminded of my first big web-related “Aha!” moment. Years ago I was a struggling cartoonist, and I desperately wanted to get my work syndicated. The publishers, however, apparently didn’t feel my comics served the right demographic, so I decided to publish them myself on the web. The day I uploaded my comic strip site and viewed it in Netscape’s browser, I had a huge “Aha!” moment. Even though the number of people reading my comics was small, I could still self-publish them – cheaply – and skip the traditional publishing route. I wasn’t out to make money: I just wanted exposure.
I had a similar moment with RSS last year, which led to the creation of FeedDemon. And now I was having one with podcasting.
Now, we’re still in the very early stages of podcasting (which, btw, needs a better name), but I can see how powerful the idea is. Thanks to my first “Aha!” moment with the web, I get a charge out of any new idea which enables creative people to self-publish their work. For podcasting to move forward, though, we really need:
- Better tools for automating enclosure downloads and syncing them with an iPod or other media device
- Better aggregated feeds which contain enclosures
Hopefully I’m helping with the first item, and I’m betting other RSS readers will do the same. But the second item is barely being addressed, IMO. Yes, we have feeds which collect the latest enclosures, but so far I haven’t seen any which let you really define what you want to download. For example, how about a service which finds the latest enclosures about a specific topic, such as the recent US election? Or one that finds the latest MP3s from your favorite musical style? Just subscribe to a “punk rock” feed, and the service collects the latest audio enclosures from any punk band – including ones you’ve never heard of.
As Marc Canter points out, a big part of the problem is the lack of metadata accompanying enclosures. But while I agree that metadata is important, it’s still possible for a search engine to look for keywords in the description of any RSS item that contains an enclosure. Feedster has been working along these lines already with their Feedster.TV site. Is anyone else working on this?